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Rhonda's Tips: Genealogy Questions Answered
by Rhonda R. McClure

April 10, 2003
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Protecting the Privacy of Living Relatives

Q: As I research my family tree, I find that some people are listed as "Living" but without a full name. Is this the appropriate way to list the living relatives for privacy? -- Ellen

A: As you enter people in your genealogy program, you should certainly include any known information about living individuals including name and dates and places of important events. When you are sharing your information with others, though, this is different story. Whenever you are sharing your information — whether you are publishing it to the Internet or in a book or sharing through printed reports or a GEDCOM file — it is a good idea to keep information on the living individuals private.

Most genealogy programs offer some method for keeping certain information private. It may be to list the name of the person and then replace their events with the word "Private" or it may be to substitute everything with the word "Living." Another way to keep information on living relatives safe is to not share the generations that include living individuals. This is especially important when sharing a GEDCOM file.

While I am happy to share information with others, I maintain that my brother is really the only person who could benefit from my entire database since he is the only person who is descended from everyone that I am. As such, when I am sharing a GEDCOM file with others I limit the included generations to those that are of interest to the cousin in question. This does require a certain working knowledge of your genealogy program since you have to know how to limit the file to just those individuals you want.

If I wanted to show a cousin an ancestor and his or her family and ancestors in Family Tree Maker, then I would probably use the pedigree chart and add the siblings in each generation. Then I would tell Family Tree Maker to export that family into a GEDCOM file. The cousin gets the research that relates to their family and my living relatives remain unknown.

When I am publishing to the Internet I often limit the Web page to just those lines I am currently working on. I do this because this is the line I am hoping to correspond with others about by reaching out to them on the Internet. I control the ancestors in this manner as well. Again in Family Tree Maker I avail myself of the reports that can be published to the Internet controlling the individuals included.

If for some reason you did want to share your entire database with another person, then you should investigate how your genealogy program hides information on living individuals. In many programs it is an option turned on when creating the GEDCOM file. In Family Tree Maker it is something you do before you create the GEDCOM file. In the File Menu in the Preferences section, you will see the option to Privatize the file. This changes the background color of the Family View, prevents changes to the database, but does allow you to print reports, create a GEDCOM file or upload reports to the Internet

As a researcher you will certainly want to record any information you find or receive about your living relatives, so that when they do pass away you have it, but it is also a good idea to keep the information to yourself when dealing with other cousins, especially those you have met only through the Internet. Better to be safe than sorry.

Restricted Films at the FHL

Q: My great-grandmother died in childbirth and should be included in the 1880 Warren County, Pennsylvania mortality schedule. I tried to borrow it from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City but was told that the film is "restricted." Why can't I borrow this film to use in my local Family History Center in Montana?-- Kitty

A: There are a number of reasons that a microfilm or microfiche may be restricted and accessible only at the Family History Library. Perhaps living individuals are found on the film or the restriction is required in order to reach an agreement with the repository who owns the records to be microfilmed. In the case of some religious records, you need certain identification in order to use the records.

Having used other mortality schedule films, I was intrigued when you mentioned it was restricted, so I went looking in the Family History Library Catalog. In the film notes section, I found a notation by each of the seven microfilm numbers that the film was available at the Library Attendant's Window. Any time you see this next to a microfilm, this means that the film requires the individual wishing to view the film to produce a photo ID when asking for the film. The library attendant at the FHL then holds onto your photo ID while you look at the microfilm or microfiche.

The entry doesn't mention that the films are restricted to the Family History Library, which is another notation you will often find mentioned in the catalog. However, I would say that there must be a limitation that has been put on the Family History Library about making copies of those particular films. In this instance, reading through the FHLC entry for these films I would have to say that it is because the films they have were not filmed by the Family History Library or the Genealogical Society of Utah, but instead by Bell and Howell. As such, the Family History Library is prevented from making copies. Because they cannot make copies they have instituted controls so that the films do not disappear from the library. Also, since they cannot make copies, there is no way to have a copy of the films to make available to local Family History Centers.

What you may need to do is to locate the family in question in the regular 1880 population schedule so that you know exactly the township and enumeration district for the family, as that will be important in finding the family in the mortality schedule. Then you will need to contact a professional genealogist who lives and works in Salt Lake City. Give them the information you have on the family and they should be able to get the information from the restricted film for you. I would bet the charge would be nominal provided you supply them with as much information as possible.

Whenever you are looking at ordering microfilms or microfiche it is a good idea to read through the catalog's title details and look closely at the film details to look for any limitations. For instance, some films are restricted so that they cannot be sent to Family History Centers east of the Mississippi. All of this information should be found somewhere either in the catalog entry.

1960 California Census

Q: How or where can I access the 1960 census for California? -- Ed

A: Actually the most recent federal census available for the state of California is the 1930 census. That census was released in April 2002.

United States federal census records are protected by a privacy act that prevents their release for 72 years. While this sounds like a long time, it isn't if you compare it to other countries. Some countries have a 100- or 110-year hold on such records meaning the most recently available is even older than 1930.

There are some situations, though, where you may be allowed to request a specific entry from the 1960 census. You would have to know the exact address for the individual in question and could not ask the census bureau to do a blanket search for you. There are also some limitations on who can request the record based on relationship. You can find out more about this service by visiting the Census Web site.

Lost User Home Page

Q: I am having a very hard time finding information about my great-grandfather, Alexander Cadeau. I believe he was born in Lotbiniere, Lotbiniere County, Quebec about 1851 and arrived in Ontario in the Port Severn area with two of his brothers, Simione (b. unknown) and John (b. unknown). He met and married Marie Louise or Louise Marie Charlebois from St. Elizabeth, Quebec in August 1869 in Port Severn. I found some information on a User's Page titled "A Journey Through Time" but now when I go to find the page it is no longer available. Is there a way for me to find this page again? -- Diane

A: User home pages are created by family historians who wish to share their research. The pages can be uploaded and deleted anytime. I looked at the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) for the link in question, and then worked from the top down. I started in the User Pages found in the Community section and looked for Sharon McBride, who posted the original page in question. It appears that she has removed her pages completely because I didn't find any links that might be hers. Likewise I noticed that in the bulletin boards you tried to contact Sharon via e-mail and were getting your messages bounced back, indicating the e-mail address is no longer valid.

So, the information that you were seeking appears to no longer be posted on I did find your research intriguing, though, since I found that I was running up against road blocks where the family should have been and I couldn't find them in databases where they should have been. So that piqued my curiosity, and being a genealogist, I couldn't let it alone.

I used your research question as the basis for this week's Twigs & Trees with Rhonda. I was stumped that your family was omitted from records where I would have expected to find them. I hope the information I found proves helpful in your research.

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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